Two million Primary school children have been inspired by Barefoot, a national programme for computing originally set up and funded by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.
To mark this significant milestone, the partners involved with the project – including the now-lead sponsor BT – came together at a special event at the iconic BT Tower.
Julia Adamson, Director of Education at BCS, was involved with Barefoot during the early days of its inception in 2014. She spoke at the event and afterwards said: "Barefoot is a shining example of outstanding industry support and expertise that has already helped the teachers of over two million Primary school pupils, and it is making a real impact on learning outcomes for young people right across the country.
"I was absolutely delighted to help mark this significant milestone in such a special way with BT, along with our wonderful volunteers and supporters and of course the fabulous Digital Leaders from Ashmount Primary School."
Left to right: Paul Fletcher, BCS CEO; Julia Adamson, BCS Director of Education; Andy Wales, BT Chief Digital Impact and Sustainability Officer; Liz Williams, Director, Digital Society - BT; Lily Sellers, teacher from Ashmount Primary School; Anthony Coombe, Department for Education; and Katy Potts, Computing and E-Safety Lead for Children's Services, Islington Council.
The Barefoot programme, now in its fifth year, has delivered free classroom-ready teaching resources to over 70,000 teachers across 60% of the UK's Primary schools. By helping pupils develop basic computing skills, teachers are preparing them for today's digital world and for their futures.
Paul Fletcher, BCS CEO, said: "Barefoot is the alchemy of three partners with a shared goal, coming together to make something very special happen."
"Through BCS and our Computing at School network of teachers, we brought the classroom expertise, and BT brought the capability and capacity to scale up to a sustainable programme available to all Computing teachers across the whole of the UK. I am incredibly proud of what, collectively, we've all achieved."
By 2022 the UK will need an additional 500,000 workers in digital industries – three times the number of Computer Science graduates the UK has produced in the last ten years. This is why the Barefoot programme is so important today; it supports Primary teachers to teach the basics of computer science in a fun, accessible way; it combines teaching activities with professional development materials and volunteer-led workshops for teachers. Liz Williams, Director of Digital Society at BT, said "I am incredibly proud of how far the Barefoot programme has come and the impact it has had on teachers and children around the UK.
"It is so important that children are taught about how to navigate the digital world around them. The Barefoot programme not only delivers tech skills – it delivers life skills."
"Well done to everyone who has helped make the programme the success it is today; but let's not stop there. We live in a world underpinned by digital skills and technology. Let's make sure the next generation can not only thrive in this virtual society but help shape it."
To mark the announcement, a new Barefoot website has also been launched which provides even more lesson plans for teachers. A typical plan consists of tasks designed to improve pupils' understanding of concepts like algorithms in a way that improves their ability to think logically and creatively. The website will also include a new lesson plan which helps educate pupils on using the internet safely and on what consent means in terms of controlling their personal information and identity.
If you are interested in hearing about the Barefoot programme, please visit https://www.barefootcomputing.org/ to get inspired!